Video of the last time I played with TP

Taking a quick break from getting ready for this Friday’s gig, I was just looking for video of TP in action. I happened upon this clip from the last time we played together, back in 2000 at Gabes in Iowa City (glow sticks and all). The video starts with a glimpse of Ryan Burns, who passed away a few years ago. It’s nice to think that this video captured him at his happiest. He loved seeing TP.

Oversteps

It probably goes without saying that the release of each Autechre album is a listening event for me and many like-minded music nerds, but for Oversteps this is more true than it otherwise might be after the London gig in support of Quaristice (one of the best musical experiences of my life), and all the variants on that album, which sat very well with me. It’s definitely one of my favourite Autechre albums, if not top of the list (controversial, I know).

Oversteps feels like a logical follow-up to Quaristice. It sounds very Nord heavy to my ears, as was Quaristice, but you can also hear the digital elements that they’ve reintroduced here. If I had to sum up the production in a word, it would be “crunchy”. You first notice this on the second track, ilanders. A lot of sounds decay or release in to bit reduction, which gives them an explosive sound and is quite disorienting over the first few listens. This is a part of a sound which normally creates ambience rather than demanding our continued attention. By creating in this typically-taken-for-granted space, they define a really unusual, demanding acoustic space. I certainly wouldn’t be averse to hearing other people exploit this approach. It’s probably strange to focus on the production so early in my comments, but it really is definitive of the album. It’s an essential part of what they’ve created.

I prefer the second half of the album, or basically everything from track 7 forward. I think the first half establishes the mood/palette well and holds the whole thing together as an album, but the individual tracks don’t do as much for me in isolation. Put another way, I think the first six tracks set out the boundaries of the album and the rest of it is the identity, if that makes any sense. Somehow I don’t have a great deal to say about those first tracks, so forgive me if I focus on the stuff that I find most compelling. If you’re interested to read more about that part of the album, my friend Kent focused on it in his review.

My favourite track is Treale. This feels like the full realisation of the Oversteps sound to me: heavily composed but rooted in repetition. Competing melodies jostle for focus while politely sliding out of the way when they’ve said their bit. The production is amazing. The resonance on the edge of one of the main melodies feels like a razor through the brain. This happily carries along for just under four minutes when it suddenly comes together as a single melody across five or six instruments. This sneaks up for a couple of repeats before taking a completely sensical but unexpected turn. This all sounds very much like Autechre and no one else. It’s everything I like about their music and precisely what I look for in music more generally.

The eighth track, os_veix3, sounds like Flutter part II to me. Again, this track is pure Autechre idiosynchracy, which leads nicely in to O0, which is distilled Autechre melody left to its own devices.

I think it would be a better album without track 10, d-sho_qub. It starts out with a distressingly happy tone. I’ve tried very hard to like this track and I just don’t. It completely interrupts what is the best part of the album for me. The beat is cool (huge) and they do some wicked effects fuckery around it, but that melody ruins it for me. That said, it wouldn’t be an Autechre album if you weren’t thwarted in a few places. Also, the end of the track with the crazy 2001 voices (Jacob Arnold beat me to this description) is sweet. It really leads on to the end of the album well, but that first four minutes of it is a blemish.

If d-sho_qub was Autechre at their most twee and melodically indulgent, then the 11th track, st_epreo is them at their most rhythmic. It definitely brings things back on track, and showcases their production skills more than any other track on the album.

If it weren’t already obvious, the melodies can’t be easily categorised. The 12th track, redfall starts out sounding like classic Plaid, but with an utterly immense resonant reverb beast that pops in and out of the mix on the periphery of what can be considered melody. On the Warp cousins tip, the fifth track, qplay, starts off sounding a lot like Boards of Canada. They’ve definitely explored melodically on this album more than on any of their earlier releases.

From the tail end of the twelfth track through the end we’re in beatless territory again. There’s a whole lotta big melody. In these tracks you can hear how they’re often using release or reverb where others might use pads. This is done throughout the album but is most noticeable at the end. It’s an unusual approach that works very well in this case.

In short, as an album it’s pure win. As Jacob Arnold said in the link above, it’s worth spending a month of your life listening to this album and not much else. It’s fantastically rewarding. Given that there’s only the one track that I wish I could remove this is a probable album of the year. Now on to that 12 hour radio show!

Can we hear “today” in today’s music, today?

I typically shy away from anything theoretical when it comes to music, but I’ve been listening to a fair amount of stuff that invokes a similar feeling and was made during the first half of the 80s in England. This is a place and a period that was really formative for me musically and I guess I’m picking up on the precise mood that so much of this music evokes and it’s the first time that I’ve ever immersed myself in it while also having a decent understanding of the history of the society at the time. This has ignited some curiosity in me. I wonder if anyone can pick up on this and grasp it when it’s happening and if so, what we would apprehend about today?

Would it be the sound of bankers, paedos, Anglo-American imperialism and old media juggernaut deaths? Or is it just that innovative music has always taken place in enclaves of shared understanding, and this “picture” is more a view of how those people saw it than of how everyone felt it? Probably some nuance in between. I dunno, but I’m interested to know what y’all think about it.

Bleep 43, 16 April 2010, full party details

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m most pleased to be returning to Bleep 43 and Corsica Studios alongside Terrence Parker and more. Full party details below:

Finnish grandeé of Minimalism Mika Vainio headlines our first party this year on Friday April 16th at Corsica Studios. Although he has retired live outings of Pan Sonic for the forseeable future, he continues to play solo and we’re very excited about witnessing his primeval explorations of analogue-generated electronic sounds. Without doubt one of the more visceral and thought-provoking artists in European music, Vainio’s pedigree is vast – he is one of the true pioneers of minimal techno, evinced by his Sakho label, and the various projects he has masterminded. Put that together with Pan Sonic and his sizeable back catalogue of abstract sound works, some of which have been recently released by Raster-Noton, and you have an idea of just how influential he has been, both to electronic dance music, and to the more cerebral end of the genre.

Joining him in Room 1 is Donato Dozzy, who will be laying down another epic journey of hypnotic techno. We were enthralled by his stately ability to brew infectious atmospheres when he made his UK debut for us last year, and it was only a matter of time before he graced the decks again. 20 years of DJing has enabled Donato to call upon a weighty collection of abstract and obscure techno records, most of which you’ve probably never heard. We have no doubt that alongside Surgeon he’s the best techno DJ in the world right now and are excited by the prospect of yet another techno odyssey from him.

Flying over from Detroit for a rare visit to the UK is Terrence Parker. Something of a veteran turntablist in the Motor City, Terrence mixes house in a unique style, and we’re looking forward to him setting Room 2 alight. Making his Bleep43 debut alongside Terrence is DJ Guy, who has built up a strong following as Europe’s finest booty DJ. Formerly one-half of the Non-Stop DJs, Guy runs his own Global Fire label, and his style encompasses electro, house, disco and funk. Supporting them is one of our regulars, Phonopsia, who returns to Bleep43 after a 2 year absence.

£12 advance tickets are available from We Got Tickets, otherwise it’s £15 on the door, or £9 with a valid NUS card.

Hope to see y’all there! Here’s the Facebook page, if that’s how you roll.

Advanced notice of next Bleep

I’m most pleased to be returning to Bleep 43, playing alongside the inimitable Terrence Parker for the fifth time, at Corsica Studios in Elephant and Castle on Friday 16th April, 2010. This is the night I’ve played at the most and the headlining DJ I’ve played with most, so it feels exceedingly comfortable. I’ll be playing an extended set as well.

If that weren’t enough, we’ve got Europe’s leading booty turntablist, another chance to see Donato Dozzy, and Mika Vanio playing live on a fantastic Funktion 1 rig. I’ll post further details as they’re released.

Bleep 43

Fri 16th April @ Corsica Studios – 10 pm – late

Room 1

Mika Vainio live
Donato Dozzy
Toby Frith

Room 2

Terrence Parker
DJ Guy
Phonopsia

online adv tix £12, £15 otd, £9 NUS

More details tba

Sorry I’ve been quiet around here lately. Blog posts go down as micro-blog posts go up, it would seem. If you haven’t already got it, I’m talking most of my nonsense over here now.

Emote Control

This is a new mix of moody music from the past, with a decent amount of ambience and some guitars. Light on the mixing. Just over an hour. Download here.

Depeche Mode – Sibeling [Sire Records]
Mara Carlyle – Pianni [Accidental Records]
Aphex Twin – Lichen [Sire Records]
A Small, Good Thing – Flamenco 1 [Soleilmoon Recordings]
Björk – Amphibian [One Little Indian]
Tortoise – Gamera [Thrill Jockey]
The Cure – Closedown [Fiction Records]
New Order – Doubts Even Here [Factory]
Tones on Tail – When You’re Smiling [Beggars Banquet]
Laurie Anderson – O Superman [Warner Bros. Records]
Steve Reich – Proverb [Nonesuch]

Vladislav Delay featuring Lucio Capece at Union Chapel

Before I delve in, I have to say how delighted I was to return to such a beautiful and lovely sounding venue – particularly when the stage was flanked with two proper stacks of Funktion 1 sound. We’re lucky to have a chance-taking venue of this calibre in London, particularly when it has to share its time with religious duties. But to get to the point without further delay (geddit?), here’s my report on Vladislav Delay‘s visit to Union Chapel.

Sasu Ripatti and Lucio Capece performed about an hour’s worth of material from Tummaa. It was very live. Most of the music originated from an alto saxophone without a neck, with various mouthpieces attached to it and a bizarre assortment of bespoke mutes on the other end – to the extent that there was hardly ever any recognisable saxophone in the mix. When the mouthpiece wasn’t being used for blowing, Lucio Capece made odd clicks and other percussive noises with it. He also abused the mutes for all manner of unexpected output.

These were strange mutes. One looked like a hollowed-out telephoto lense attached to a paper towell roll. They were variously tapped with mallets, bowed and things were shoved in them. In one of the oddest perversions of instrumentation I’ve ever seen, he covered one of the mutes on a bass clarinet with a circular piece of paper, balanced a tiny ball in the middle and kept it levitated with constant exhalation. The ball rattled around atop the floating sheet next to a microphone, but it’s hard to know exactly what this sounded like relative to the final output. I imagine he must have been breathing circularly to pull this off. Indeed, a lot of the time he seemed to be producing constant sound, so that he was achieving something more like a bagpipe or a didgeridoo than a saxophone/clarinet.

Not that you could really hear what it sounded like, since all of this was sampled, effected and often completely removed from the mix in its unadulterated form. It was basically the source of almost every sound that came out of the Ripatti’s laptop, save some bizarre percussive pops/clicks that looked like they were coming from the naked skeleton of an autoharp and some other pad thing he was tapping on from time to time.

What was amazing about this was how much it resembled the sounds of the album, since nearly all of it seemed to be generated, modified, sampled, sequenced, arranged and dubbed in real time. It seemed like Ripatti had some kind of Kaos pad type of thing that he would tremolo things up with as they were recorded and he would actually play a lot of the percussive bits himself. In short, it’s hard to know who made what at which point. I’ve seen similar performances where a lot is left to chance and improvisation, which can be excellent, but I was unprepared to hear something so similar to Tummaa, achieved in such an imaginative, unusual and genuinely live way. It was captivating.

There did seem to be a couple of pre-recorded bits, but from what I could tell they were just the bits that would have come from a keyboard, and there was no keyboardist. This was about .1% of the total music played, and no slight on what they did. Oh, and on the last or next-to-last track Lucio Capece had some bizarre arcane wooden box with some vaguely accordian-esque properties, routed through his own tiny mixer. This was really cool too. I’d love to know what the front of the box looks like and what the hell it was.

I’m also just remembering that during the first track there were a lot of people walking back in to the chapel from the bar and some of their footsteps and a cough from the audience were captured by on-stage microphones and wound up in the mix. This was really intriguing to hear, as they were just building up the sounds that would form the beginning of the set and it felt like the acoustics of the building were becoming a part of the music itself.

My only complaint is that I couldn’t recognise Toive in what they played. It’s my favourite song from the album (one of my favourites of the year full-stop) and I was really looking forward to hearing that kick come in, as it has a huge impact in contrast to an album’s worth of ambience. It’s possible that it was played, but I didn’t spot it, for whatever that’s worth. Anyway, this is a very minor complaint and we left very happy. It was a great performance that will sit nicely beside my other great memories of the Union Chapel.

Hip hop catch-up

Got some new loot from the home of the Lootpack:

DOOM – Unexpected Guests [Gold Dust Media]
J Dilla – Donuts [Stones Throw]
Madlib – Beat Konducta Vol 1-2: Movie Scenes [Stones Throw]
Madlib – Beat Konducta Vol 3 & 4: In India [Stones Throw]
Madlib – Beat Konducta Vol. 5: Dil Cosby Suite [Stones Throw]
Madlib – Beat Konducta Vol. 6: Dil Withers Suite [Stones Throw]

It’s criminal that I haven’t bought Donuts yet.

Prosthetic Memory